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AutoPower's - Spring-Summer 2005 Power Surge Newsletter is off the printing presses and in the mail. If you would like to review it online click on the AutoPower HOME link above and then click on NEWS in the header. You will see PDF versions of our printed newsletters on the right.
Some Highlights Inculde:
E-Commerce Big Success Story - Can this work for you?
Customer Focus - Beta Testing of your ability to review status of your AutoPower workorders online.
New Customers - Spotlighted
Surviving A Business Disaster - Tips
Truck Parts Distributor of Year Finalists - See their story
Mike Libbe - VP Technology
Is your business getting the most out of your business system? Do you believe you have squeezed all of the power and efficiencies out of your business system investment? If you are like most businesses, the answer is No.
The single most important method available to improve the efficiency of your hardware and software investment is training and education. This is an often neglected and overlooked aspect of a computer system purchase. Many distributors understand that you should buy as much hardware as you can afford, and others understand the value of feature-rich software. But how many distributors really take advantage of the power of employee training and education? Distributors generally do not hesitate to get their mechanics certified for different systems on the vehicle, and their counter staff up to speed on product information. But they rarely take advantage of getting their staff "certified" for maximum use of a computer system.
When a new computer system is installed, the business system provider will generally provide either classroom training or onsite training for the new software. These training sessions generally last for 1 or 2 weeks. After training is over, the distributor begins using the system and goes about their business as best they can. But how much of the training is retained by the staff? Chances are that it is only enough to handle the day-to-day operations of the business. In order to leverage the hardware and software investment, a business must strive to continually train their employees to properly use the computer system.
A computer system will quickly become the linchpin to a successful business. If the computer is up and running properly, management can focus on developing and expanding the business. If the computer is not performing properly, then management must spend time, energy and resources to manage the business without the computer system. This applies to how well the employees use the computer system as well. Employees who are properly trained are better able to do their jobs and efficiently use the power of the computer system. Management may balk at the cost of providing advanced training, but consider the cost of not adequately training your staff. Management may save real dollars by not spending money on employee training, but how much money is "lost" through inefficient use of the software?
AutoPower provides ongoing training for their customers. These training opportunities help employees retain skills and techniques required to use features of the business system that may not be used every day. These same training classes are instrumental in helping new employees learn how to properly use the computer system. Over the years, companies that do not take advantage of advanced education suffer from "brain drain". When employees leave a company, they take their intimate knowledge of how to use the computer with them. Also, as employees use the computer the same way day after day, they become complacent and believe that the business system is unable to help them do their job better. A training class can be an eye-opener for long-time users about how to best use a computer system.
Don't try to train the entire staff every year. Instead, develop a policy of rotating different employees each year to different training classes offered by the business system provider. An employee should undergo advanced training every 2-3 years to keep their skills sharp, or more frequently if new features have been added to the business system. AutoPower University classes are held periodically in Orlando, FL. These training classes can be offered as a reward or benefit to your employees. Most employees will appreciate an opportunity to travel to Florida for training and education and will likely look forward to repeating that trip again in another 2-3 years.
George Meyer - Senior Designer
Obviously, we get a lot of spam these days - and nobody is immune from the irritation of so many unsolicited emails. Sadly, spammers are getting more sophisticated. Spam, viruses and spyware are interrelated and affect each other. Many viruses/trojans are made to hijack computers and use them as spamming source points. Spyware that gets into your system can open the door for these viruses to enter and proliferate the spam problem.
Do you find that some of the time you get spam emails that seem legitimate? For example: you receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org that tells you about your email account having an issue. This email may have a link to a strange web page asking for personal info. How about an email from your bank or from PayPal telling you that your personal information needs to be updated (again, another link to a strange page asking for info).
These are all examples of 'Phishing'. Phishing is spam that tries to defraud consumers through identity theft. I personally get at least 5 per week and most of them look legitimate - until I click the link and come to a page with an IP address instead of the correct domain name of the linked organization. It angers me and impresses me at the same time. These criminals are clever and are after my most precious personal information. They want to rip me off!
Sadly, they are successful enough of the time to make it profitable for them. Here is a rule of thumb: if you get an email that makes no sense, it is more than likely spam. If you get an email with no subject and no from address, it is spam. If you get a strange email from someone familiar with a strange attachment, it is likely spam. Immediately delete all these messages. If you ever get an email telling you to update personal information online, call the organization FIRST. If the link you go to has 'http://220.127.116.11/page.html' (an IP address) instead of 'http://www.domainname.com/page.html' (a domain name) then you are being Phished. Someone wants to steal personal information from you!
Phishing: Fraud scheme usually through email
Spam: Unsolicited email
Spyware: Software that reveals information about your computer and its contents
Ross Baldwin - Director E-Business Solutions
Search Engine Strategies
The first time I heard the term "organic search" I immediately thought of organic food at the grocery store. So, is this organic search healthier for me?
Actually 'organic search' is simply the next new buzzword for the concept of pure, or crawler-based search on the Internet. And the use and knowledge about how it works could be very healthy for your company. I know some of our readers may find it challenging to keep up with the latest Internet lingo so I thought I'd take a moment to at least explain the concept of organic search.
Organic describes searches that return results by indexing pages based on content and keyword relevancy. This is in contrast to listings ranked based on who paid the most money to appear at the top such as those on Overture.com. Sometimes this is called "pure" or "natural search" as it is supposed to be "untainted" by commercial payments or bids.
Historically, Google has led the way in championing the virtues of natural or organic search. Its primary focus has always been to return fast, highly relevant results based on the content of the page, the relevancy of links pointing to that page, and other "objective" criteria. Sponsored listings have always been clearly separated from the organic search results on Google. However, many other engines have experimented with mixing the two types of search without clearly labeling which is which. This has been followed by public outcries, and at least one cautionary set of statements issued by the FTC in 2002.
Pros and Cons of Organic Search vs. Paid Search
Unlike organic foods at your local grocery store, you aren't required to pay extra to reap the healthy benefits of "organic" search. So what are the benefits of organic over paid search?
1. Greater Click-through: People trust "organically grown" search results more than they do sponsored results. While the engine's business is supported by paid ads, many consumers prefer the organic search results. Due to the contextual nature of organic search, the listings can be more relevant and offer a greater depth of choices. Therefore, while paid ads can play an important part in your marketing strategy, ultimately it is the organic search results that will more likely yield the greater click-through rates when all other things are equal. Therefore, it's this type of listing that will maximize the traffic to your site whenever you climb to the top.
2. Power of Branding: More and more large corporations are investing resources into organic search to gain the marketing benefits of promoting their brand. For example, most consumers would expect to find Dell.com in a search for computers. If your company does not show up for the keyword results in which you'd expect to appear it could be embarrassing. Consumers may wonder if Company X is as important as they once were if they don't even show up in MSN, Yahoo or Google. Conversely, inserting your brand in the top search results can give the impression that your company is important. Therefore, smaller companies can give the impression of big business importance by securing a better position in organic search than their larger rivals.
3. Greater Trust Equals Greater Conversions: Most adults learn to apply a healthy dose of skepticism when they see a commercial on TV, a banner ad on the Web, or a sponsored ad on a search engine. After all, we know those ads are commercially motivated and may not always be the most relevant product or solution for our needs. It may simply represent the company that was able to spend the most money to get their message in front of me. Sometimes bigger companies do offer the best products, but there's no guarantee. There's certainly not the same level of trust that we see from visitors arriving from organic search. Organic search can, of course, be commercially influenced. However, a recent survey shows that people tend to trust organic results compared to sponsored listings. On the whole, you should see more visitors from organic search converting to sales, assuming your rankings were for targeted, relevant keywords. In the business world, ROI, or Return On Investment, is king. Fortunately, organic search can give you the high ROI you're looking for or your boss is demanding.
4. Organic is Free: After all these years, it's still free to submit to Google, arguably the most popular of the organic search engines right now. Google has always been adamant about not charging for inclusion in its index of 4.2 billion pages. Most other organic engines will also index you for free, although some like Yahoo do have paid inclusion options. Paid inclusion simply guarantees your page will get indexed quickly and stay indexed for as long as you maintain your subscription, but does not promise a particular ranking. However, if you have a Web site with good quality content and links from third party sites, paid inclusion is "nice-to-have". It can be very useful in getting pages indexed or re-indexed quickly. This allows you to quickly test various page designs and to feed news and other time-sensitive content to the search engine as quickly as possible.
1. Organic Rankings are Not Automatic: With organic listings, you cannot simply hand over a certain amount of money and be guaranteed to quickly and automatically achieve any ranking you desire. Instead, achieving positions in organic search requires the proper technology, skill, and know-how. There has always been a cloud of mystery around the process of achieving top rankings. How's it done? Where do I start? That's why AutoPower has this service as part of our Web Site Support Services Package. We know it is essential to a business's success in search engine marketing.
2. Organic Rankings Require an Investment in Time: The age-old adage of "nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy" rings true with organic rankings. While they are monetarily free, simply submitting your pages to the search engines is not enough to bring in a flood of new visitors to your Web site. Far too many businesses have been fooled into spending $49 or $99 to submit their site to "thousands" of sites, 99% of which are obscure names you've probably never heard of. The key is that someone doing a search on a major search engine must be able to easily find your Web site.
If your site is buried at the bottom of the list, or simply fails to appear in the first few pages of search results, you can kiss your chances of being found good-bye. The key is to use responsible best practices to create pages that are highly relevant to the keywords that apply to your Web site and the products or solutions you have to offer. In other words, optimize your pages for search engine visibility and see how fast your position improves. To do this, you simply need to know what each search engine needs for maximum visibility. Then tweak your Web page's content while paying attention to off-page factors like the number and type of links coming to your page. Tune the pages of your site to the preferences of the major search engines and then watch your rankings and traffic climb.
While optimizing your Web site to rank well for organic searches takes more effort than simply buying an ad, it can provide your business with one of the highest ROI results that you're likely to find. Numerous studies have placed search engine optimization at the top of the list of the most effective forms of online marketing. Its low cost, high relevancy, and high conversion rates make it an ideal marketing vehicle for almost any business
If you are considering web marketing for your company you should give Ross Baldwin a call @ 800 229 2881. AutoPower has many programs that can bring some "Organic Search Health and Profits" to your company.